Massachusetts Medical Society takes Additional Steps to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Physicians group issues additional public messages for physicians and patients

Contact: Richard Gulla
781-434-7101
rgulla@mms.org 

Waltham, Mass. – November 12 – The Massachusetts Medical Society today announced it is taking additional actions to combat the opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth by reaching out to physicians and patients with additional messages about safe prescribing and pain medications. 

Dennis M. Dimitri, M.D., president of the 25,000-member physicians group, said that the medical society has made the public health crisis of opioid abuse a “top priority” of the organization and that “we are committed to doing everything in our power to end the overdose crisis.” 

Dr. Dimitri said separate messages have been developed for physicians and patients. Physicians are being urged to reconsider how they prescribe opioid medications, and patients are being encouraged to discuss with their physicians the risks and benefits of pain medications.  Each of the messages, signed by Dr. Dimitri as president of the state medical society, also directs the listener or reader to www.massmed.org/opioids, the medical society’s website that contains information on prescribing and opioid abuse.  

Specific steps that the medical society is taking include:

  • A new public service announcement, recorded by Dr. Dimitri that will be aired during radio broadcasts of New England Patriots football game.  The society began its public service campaign in August with a spot featuring Dr. Dimitri and New England Patriot Devin McCourty that talked about the safe storage and disposal of prescription drugs. The new spot, speaking directly to patients and encouraging them to talk with their doctors, will begin Sunday, November 15. 
  • An “Open Letter to the People of Massachusetts” from Dr. Dimitri that will be published in The Boston Globe on Sunday, November 15.  The letter encourages patients to have “open and candid conversations with their doctors about opioids,” including “whether alternatives to opioids would be effective for you.”  
  • Distribution of the society’s new prescribing guidelines to every member of the society, with a cover letter from Dr. Dimitri urging those who prescribe to study the new guidelines, to recommend opioids in the smallest possible dose for the shortest period of time, to consider alternatives to opioids for treatment of pain, and to review the society’s free offerings of continuing medical education courses on pain management and opioid prescribing.  

“The epidemic of opioid overdoses in Massachusetts,” said Dr. Dimitri, “has made it imperative that physicians reexamine their practices for prescribing opioid medications. The guidelines can be a powerful prevention measure, which we hope will mark a turning point in our efforts to end this terrible epidemic.” 

The medical society has been in the forefront of battling the opioid epidemic, creating programs on its own and working with Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel in developing strategies and responses to the crisis.  

The Society’s core responses to the opioid crisis have been the development of new prescribing guidelines, issued in May and subsequently adopted by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine and incorporated into its comprehensive advisory to physicians on prescribing issues and practices, and offering its continuing medical education (CME) courses on opioid prescribing and pain management free to all prescribers. Nearly 2,000 individuals have taken almost 5,000 CME courses since the free courses began in May.  

Additionally, the organization has sponsored two public forums for providers and public health officials; created a dedicated website for physicians and patients; and has helped to develop, in concert with the deans of the state’s four medical schools, medical education core competencies for medical students on preventing prescription drug misuse.  It also continues to work with the Department of Public Health to improve the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program.  More information on the medical society’s efforts may be found on its website at www.massmed.org.  


The Massachusetts Medical Society, with more than 25,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society, under the auspices of NEJM Group, publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and Journal Watch alerts and newsletters covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education providing accredited and certified activities across the globe for physicians and other health care professionals.  Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country. For more information please visit www.massmed.org, www.nejm.org, or www.jwatch.org.  

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